#501 Correctly picking the fastest moving line at the grocery store

You can do it.

Motor around filling your basket with food before spying the checkouts and picking your poison. Here’s five tips for living life in the fast lane:

5. Skip your greens. Keep away from shopping carts full of strange produce. Anyone with little bags of cilantro or parsley is a guaranteed slowdown because they’ll force cashiers to look up produce codes.

4. Saving spaces, angry faces. Watch out for the single guy holding a box of aluminum foil. Sure, he may look like a quick checkout but he might be a spot-saver for a big-wheeling partner who’s about to cruise around the corner with a fat cart stuffed with frozen food. If he’s glancing around nervously, avoid the line.

3. Bag the bagger. I hate to break it to you but you’re terrible at bagging. Sorry, but look at you — wedging frozen peas beside fresh bread, setting potatoes on eggs, making one bag really heavy and one bag really light. No, you’ve got to leave bagging to the pros. Since some lines have baggers and some don’t make sure you pick one with a helper to get the job done right.

2. Take a flyer on the flyer. Customers holding dog-eared flyers are probably going to ask questions, try to get a rain check, or slowly tear out all the coupons. Just remember this handy phrase: Flyer in tow? That line is slow. Amen, sing it your mama.

1. Mo’ cashiers, mo’ problems. While scoping baggers make sure you scope cashiers, too. Keep your eyes peeled for quick hands, firm credit card swiping, and purposeful change drawer slamming. Avoid any lane with two cashiers because one of them is in Training Wheel Mode. Support their development silently and catch them next month when they’ve learned how to double bag.

Yes, picking the fastest moving line at the grocery store is such a great high. When you get it right you’re like the undercover cop of the store — spying customers, eyeballing cashiers, and then swooping in smartly to get the job done in style.

You’re all class all the time, baby.



Photos from: here, here, and here

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#502 Fully justifying whatever horrible thing you’re eating

Let the grease glisten, mayo drip, and soda fizz.

Here are three ways to make the magic happen:

1. Veggie Validation. My friend Mike is king of this hilarious move. “Gotta get my greens,” he’ll say, while chomping dill pickles on the couch playing video games. “Carrots are good for you,” he’ll smile, while licking thick cream cheese icing off a moist brick of carrot cake. Remember: Anything with vegetables in it fully qualifies as potentially healthy. Now go relax and enjoy some sweet pumpkin pie with a side of onion rings.

2. Dumbbell Defense. On the rare mornings I venture to the gym for a half-dozen situps and some stretching in sweatpants, I always end up eating a tipsy mountain of nachos for dinner later in the day. “No worries,” I’ll think with cheese-greasy fingers and salsa dripping down my chin, “I totally worked this off already.”

3. Vacation Breakin’. When you go on holidays it’s fun to free your stomach from the shackles of the kitchen. Slip into shades and shorts and start breaking the rules in the slow lane. Remember: getting away from it all means putting your feet up and having a third sundae.

Yes, fully justifying whatever terrible thing you’re eating is a beautiful eyes-wide moment of taste-based wonder. It’s great ditching the guilt once in a while to enjoy a crispy-skinned wiener on the sidewalk or a drippy quarter pounder after the bars on Friday night.

People, we ain’t spinning on this rock too long so let’s all remember to relax and just enjoy the extra scoop.


Photos from: here, here, here and here

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#504 Acrobatic snoozing moves

Everybody loves a good snooze.

That’s where you groggily dive back into the sleepy underworld for a few more minutes of lazy-boned bliss before waking up to get your day on. It’s even better when you tap the snooze button with a bit of acrobatic showmanship that keeps you dreaming before your wide-awake self invades the place.

Here’s how to keep on snoozing in the free world:

1. The Blindfold. You’ve long memorized the shape and location of your snooze button, so when it starts buzzing you don’t even open your eyes. Nope, you just fumble until you find it and kick back for nine more minutes of heaven.

2. The Behind The Back. Here’s where you’re facing away from the alarm clock when it starts ringing, but instead of flipping right over you casually toss your arm in the air and reach backwards until you find the snooze. Also known as the Reverse Angle Shoulder Twist.

3. The Outsource. Perhaps your clock starts buzzing as your boyfriend is hopping around putting his pants on or while your sister’s knocking on the door trying to wake you up. Either way, you outsource your snoozing to them with a cute and groggy “Mmmnnn … can you hit … button.”  Of course, their payment for doing the job is that soft and slow eyes-closed smile curling onto your face as you fade out.

4. The Toe Tap. You’ve been tossing and turning all night and now you’ve got the Toe Vent going in a perfect spot to use your foot to tap the button. If you manage to avoid knocking over your glass of water or accidentally kick your alarm clock to the floor, this can be a stunningly beautiful move.

Yes, pulling off an acrobatic snooze makes you feel like a trapeze artist way up inside a big tent at the roaring climax of the circus. Sweat drips down your forehead and onto your tight white unitard as you stare with steady eyes at your wide-eyed partner swinging towards you. Suddenly you bend your knees and jump high and wide into their open arms before quickly locking and soaring breathless over all the bright lights below…

Elephants trumpet, lions roar, and jaws drop as  you somersault with a smile way, way up in the darkness. The ringmaster points his cane up at you and screams while thundering applause rains down.

Snooze for the moment. Snooze for the memories.

Snooze for your life.


— Email message —

“Hi Neil, here are my 3 Awesome Things in no particular order: 1) Happening upon an inspiring street performer, 2) On a long drive discovering a great radio station that energizes you and takes your mind off the road, 3) Reading The Book of Awesome and then noticing all the awesome things in your own life.” – Frank from PostSecret

Photos from: here and here

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#505 The last few hours before the weekend

This is known as The Funrise.

Chatty buzz fills office cubicles, laughs echo down high school halls, and the clock ticks a little bit faster as we all smile and get ready for a couple big days of


Photos from: here


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— Email message —

“Hey Neil, your blog and <em><a href=”http://1000awesomethings.com/book” target=”_self”>The Book of Awesome</a> </em>make me appreciate the little things which is hard most of the times. I live in Australia and couldn’t wait until the book comes out here so I made my order online and it said it would take 2 weeks to be delivered. Well, I wasn’t expecting it until next week but I woke up this morning to the sound of knocking on my front door. I came downstairs and no one was there… but I found a surprise package instead! I ripped the wrapping straight away and read the beginning of the book. It was an awesome start to my day!” – Derrintia
<p style=”text-align: right;”><a href=”http://1000awesomethings.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/derrintia-australia.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-9837″ style=”border: 0 none; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;” title=”Derrintia – Australia” src=”http://1000awesomethings.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/derrintia-australia.jpg” alt=”” width=”195″ height=”260″ /></a><span style=”color: #c0c0c0;”>

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#506 When the person you’re meeting shows up even later than you

Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.

You’re late.

Racing, running, rushing, you’re checking your watch and picturing your friend tapping their foot and rolling their eyes while waiting for you.

That’s why it’s great when you arrive hot, sweaty, and breathless just before they rush around the corner hot, sweaty, and breathless, too.

Now no one has to feel bad.


Photo from: here

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#507 Riding on someone’s shoulders

Blast off.

Getting a six-foot liftoff when you’re two feet tall shoots you straight into the stratosphere. Suddenly you’re riding your own personal human in a bumpy living room safari in the clouds. Your diaper-padded ass bounces safely on sturdy shoulders as you giggle and grab fistfuls of hair and glasses while gazing down at the tiny toy-covered world you thought you knew.

Yes, your baby brain zooms out and gives a sneak peek of the big world you’re about to discover: riding wobbly bikes and skinning your knees at distant playgrounds, cruising around after curfew with fresh drivers licenses, and staring out tiny airplane windows at distant crisscrossed patches of your hometown.

Look back on those blurry shoulder rides in those jungle backyards and remember the rushing gushing feeling of going way up, staring way down, opening your eyes, and opening your mind…



Photos from: here and here

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#508 Dropping your phone on the sidewalk but then realizing it’s totally fine

It’s a terrible scene.

As that cell phone, digital camera, or pair of sunglasses crash lands on the concrete everyone gasps as it crunches, bounces, and skids hard…

Suddenly your eyes blur, stomach twists, and world flips as you fade back and suddenly realize you’re covered in scrubs inside a busy hospital ER.

You glance down the hall and see ambulance guys racing towards you wheeling your bloody cell phone strapped to a gurney without any noticeable lights or beeps. Someone’s got an icebox holding the battery case that blew off and a nurse is screaming that signal strength has flatlined.

Your eyebrows furrow and  pupils dilate as you snap on latex gloves, pull up your face mask, and start frantically checking for vitals. You scan for signs of blunt trauma, pop the battery in and out, and then finally stare straight into your cell phone’s face while closing your eyes, wincing, and forcing yourself to push Power.

There is a pause.

Nurses lean in with wide hopeful eyes, ambulance guys jostle and crowd, and nervous friends squeeze their own phones tightly for comfort and support. Then suddenly as everyone waits… and waits… and wait…

The power flashes and blinks back on.

And there is cheering.


Photo from: here

— Want more awesome things? Check out The Next 1000

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#509 Riding your bike really late at night when the streets are totally empty

Now’s your time.

As the sun dips down and the twilight fades to darkness there’s nothing sweeter than wheeling your bike out of the garage for a late summer night cruise. Those freewheeling adventures are great for a few reasons:

• The sound of silence. Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to ride with you again. Yes, blaring horns, squealing brakes, and revving engines are all turned down and you’re left alone in the shadows with the wind whispering in your ears.

• Danger, Will Robinson. There’s a sense of reckless cool cruising down those lonely black roads. You can swerve your bike in all directions, hop off the curbs, and be a two-wheeled free spirit.

• Street King. Houselights flick off and raccoons paw trash cans as you rule your Neighborhood Empire as the newly crowned Street King. Puff your chest and scream ‘This is my land!’ at any passing motorists. Just keep the crown under your helmet for safety.

Yes, riding your bike late at night lets you be alone with your thoughts and your dreams and your fears all rolling around your brain as you roll around the block. Chatty parents, buzzing phones, and little brothers are all left behind as you stare forward into the black and ride on and on and on…


Photos from: here and here

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#510 Hanging with mom

My mom and I saw a movie the other night.

I zoomed up the highway from my downtown apartment and she got a lift through the quiet sidestreets of my hometown. She had a big smile when I got there and was waiting in the lobby wearing lipstick and a cream cable knit sweater. She had the tickets pre-purchased and a purse packed with white chocolate, mixed nuts, and two bottles of water.

A plump n’ perky assistant manager with curls waterfalling out of her tight ballcap ripped our tickets and pointed us down the hall. We passed a couple glossy-eyed teens holding mops and texting as we walked into the theater and had a quick discussion — Where do you want to sit? Where do you want to sit? Wherever you want to sit — before grabbing a couple in the middle of the red plushy tundra.

Now, my mom’s five feet tall so her legs dangled from the chair, her clean gray spongy-soled sneakers swaying like a kid on a swing set. We chatted, chilled, and chowed down on chocolate before leaning back for the start of the show.

My mom fell asleep in twenty minutes.

I elbowed her softly and her eyes popped open. She looked at me, laughed guiltily, and whispered in a mock-cranky tone “It’s past my bedtime!” She then watched a few more minutes before dozing off again. After a couple more elbow jabs, I eventually just let her go.

When the credits started rolling and the house lights turned up we put on our coats on and made our way down. “So what did you think of the ending?” I asked with a big smile. “I liked the way they wrapped things up,” she straight-faced back, holding the metal handrail and single-stepping down the stairs.

I drove her home down the quiet, wet-slicked roads, through empty intersections, past my old school, and the park where my sister and I had soccer practice. When we reached the house she smiled groggily, gave me a big hug, and said come back soon.

As I zipped down the highway into the bright city lights my brain photo-flashed back … to blurry images of late-night rides through those same empty intersections, front row seats at school plays, and cold wobbly lawn chairs sitting patiently on the sidelines at soccer practice…


Photos from: here, here and here

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